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So much room for activities!

So much room for activities!

Day 98… is when I originally wrote this post, however the internet was a bit wonky that day and so it’s coming to you all a bit later than expected.

This week is certainly a busy one.  I finished and turned in my project for Pesquisa Operacional on Friday before going to Nayra’s house with all of our friends for dinner.  Charles arrived on Saturday, so of course we went almost immediately to the beach!  He tried a traditional feijoada for lunch, learned how to say “obrigado” (thank you) and “arroz” (rice) among a few other things, came to dinner for Ribamar’s birthday, and met all of my friends that night.  All in all, it was a very Brazilian and enjoyable day.

Sunday we woke up and went to the hippie fair at praça General Osório in Ipanema, and I finally bought a beach bag!  Something you would not think it’d take me 3 months to buy here..  but nonetheless is a really great one.  We headed back to the beach and then raced to catch sunset at Arpoador before going out to Barthodomeu in Ipanema for dinner and drinks that night.  We got açaí that day so that Charles could try it for the first time, and I swear it is the BEST açaí I have ever tasted.  We are both officially addicted.

On Monday I wanted to take Charles up the Trilha de Dois Irmãos that I had done with a group just a few weeks ago, so we got some “suco de manga” (mango juice) for breakfast and headed to Vidigal.  At the bottom of the favela, we hailed a couple of moto-taxis to take us up to the top where the trail starts.  It was a hot, hot day, and the driver on the way up warned us jokingly that that kind of weather brought out the “cobras.”  I didn’t take him too seriously, but on the way up we saw a small green and black snake, a giant black lizard and a few smaller lizards, although not a single monkey.  The trail has a lot of spots to just stop and take in the view on the way up, but still nothing compares to the vista once you reach the top.  It only took us about 45 minutes climb the mountain, and then it is just all of Rio at your fingertips.  It feels like standing on the edge of the world.  We ran down the mountain and ate lunch before I had my first phone interview for a full time job after graduation with Epic (a healthcare software implementation and consulting company in Madison, WI).  It went well, and I have another phone interview with Pearson (very large educational materials and publishing company) tomorrow morning as well as one next week with Deloitte (business/technology consulting).  I am not too sure where any of this will lead, but practice makes perfect, right?

This morning we went to Copacabana to try stand-up paddle boarding before I had to head to UFRJ for a meeting about our thesis project.  Paddle boarding is tougher than it looks, and unfortunately we don’t have any pictures, but we did get the hang of it by the end of our session, and it is definitely something I would try again.  I was gone for most of the rest of the day, but had promised to take Charles for a churrascaria dinner sometime during his visit, so when I got back from my meeting we went to Carretão in Ipanema.  It is a restaurant of the same chain where I had churrascaria for the first time in Copacabana, and we left more stuffed full of food than I could have imagined (but with enough space left to at least share an açaí, of course).  I think Charles was in heaven with the overwhelming cuts of fresh beef, pork, turkey, and chicken that the servers continue to bring around to all of the tables for hours.

Tomorrow we have plans to go explore Centro and the mercado at Uruguiana (if São Cristóvão isn’t open during the week).  I have class tomorrow night, which will hopefully be a review for the first exam we have on Monday in Modelos Lineares Generalizados – which is also on the day that Mom arrives here in Rio.  On the list for the rest of the week are a hike up Pão de Açúcar for sunset, exploring Santa Teresa, going to see Cristo and walking around Jardim Botânico.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated!

Molly

To be an American

To be an American

Day 93

It turns out my English class this week got cancelled, and that my phone interviews aren’t until next week- which was all a little disappointing.  It gave me a little more time though to organize the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and going to the bank parts of my life.  Ribamar is generally impressed by Keia’s cooking and general home-making skills.  This week though my sausage, eggplant, tomato, green pepper, garlic and onion recipe for pasta sauce impressed him, and in his words I am finally, “pronta para se casar,” (ready for marriage) haha.

Yesterday turned out to be a surprisingly patriotic day for this young American in Brazil.  I have been registered to vote for a while now, and I went through the process of applying for an absentee ballot since I knew I would be abroad during the upcoming election.  After receiving the materials via email, I finally decided to take the time to sit down, look it all over, do some research and try to make a difference.  It is overwhelming, the world of politics is!  On top of that, I was notified by the American Consulate here in Rio that there would be a few events surrounding the election this week, so last night Keia and I went to the Mariott hotel on the beach here in Copacabana for a Presidential Debate viewing party.  We talked briefly to a couple of other college students, and some foreigners there to watch the spectacle unfold.  I managed to pay attention long enough to realize not much was getting accomplished by either side, but I think I’ve formed enough of an opinion to at least feel good about throwing my vote in ring.  Now the only challenge is mailing it to the States in enough time to actually be counted…

Molly

Just another paradise.. (our trip to Ilha Grande)

Just another paradise.. (our trip to Ilha Grande)

Day 90

I’m sorry that I didn’t give the heads up last week that I would be heading out of town once again for the weekend.  Keia and I had dinner with our friends on Monday night, and they convinced us to get a move-on on our projects so that we could join everyone for a weekend vacation in Ilha Grande.  Ilha Grande (which literally means “the big island”) is a little more than a 2 hour drive south of Rio and then a little less than a 2 hour boat ride out to reach the island.  We worked our butts off (and will be continuing that trend for the rest of this week), and took off with our group of 15 in a van Friday evening.

The last boat out to Ilha Grande leaves the dock regularly at 10pm.  Of course everyone was just a little bit late and on top of it we hit some traffic leaving Rio, so we ended up missing the last boat from Mangaratiba by about 10 minutes.  Lucky for us, there are always a couple of fishermen waiting around for the lost or late gringos to charge them a little extra to give them a lift.  We piled into what we thought looked like a decent-sized and sturdy vessel and headed out to sea.  About 2 long hours later, a little weathered and a little drunk, we piled onto shore and headed straight for our hostel.  All of the little hostels and pousadas are adorable and gathered together at one small port on the island, leaving the rest of it in an almost completely natural state.  We stayed at the Hostel Holandes (a part of hostelling international, one of our recently new favorite organizations it appears), which was beautiful and included free breakfast.  We took a walk down to the beach and sang while Tiago played the guitar for a couple of hours before settling in for the night and going to bed.

Saturday morning we woke up to eat and buy boat passages (similar to the ones in Búzios) to a few of the different beaches and lagoons around the island.  Our ship wasn’t too crowded, and the weather was perfect as we headed away from the dock to our first destination.  We jumped into the water with noodles and fish abounding at Lagoa Azul (sort of a natural – and blue – saltwater lake formed by the rock formations in the cove).  They gave us about an hour to swim around and goof off, and it turned out John (who we’d just seen in São Paulo) was at the same stop off on a different boat when we got there!  The second stop was windy and too difficult to dock so we skipped it to dock at yet another different beach for lunch.  After filling up on rice and beans, we headed back to our little port near the hostel, played some volleyball in the courtyard, showered and got ready for dinner.  Since we had come prepared with groceries, everyone pitched in to help cook and clean, and we only left the hostel to explore the little square near the dock later on in the evening.  There was some live forró and lots of people milling around the streets.  A little later still, we sat around a bonfire by the ocean and listened to some acoustic reggae before heading in to go to bed.

Sunday morning we got up and out early (and by early, yes I mean the same time we always get up and out and it is around 10am) to hike a trail to a beach called Lopes Mendes.  It is about a two and a half hour hike over a mountain pass or a 40 minute boat ride around the horn of the island to get to Lopes Mendes.  Part of our group bought boat passages there and back, while the rest of us hiked the trail and joined the other part of the group on the beach to take the boat just one way back.  The first hour of the hike was mostly uphill, and then after a ways of going back down the mountain we came upon a beach that we thought surely must be the one we were looking for!  About 3 times, we happened upon quiet, sandy patches of beach before realizing our friends weren’t there and we hadn’t yet reached the end of the trail.  We stopped for popsicles and watched people feed some micos (those tiny monkeys we see everywhere – including outside my bedroom window last Wednesday!) before we finally made it to Lopes Mendes.  It was much bigger than the other beaches, and the sand might have been even whiter and finer than ours at Seista Key.  Unfortunately, we only had about an hour to spend there before catching the boat back to port so that we would make it on time to take the ferry off the island and back to the mainland.  The sea was getting rough on our boat trip back to port, so much so that I thought we really might tip over in the wind and waves.  It turns out it was just preparation for the ferry ride later on…

When we got back to port, packed up our suitcases, and left to catch the last ferry to Mangaratiba for the day, we barely made it and had no place to sit but in the very back of the 500 person capacity ship.  The ride was calm until about an hour in, when I heard the driver kill the engine and we crashed over a huge wave that rocked the entire boat and everyone in it.  People started getting seasick and freaking out a little bit in general, but an hour later we made it safely to shore, ate some dinner, and took our van home to Rio.  All in all, I’m very very glad that we went along – Nayra is already planning our next vacation in November and I’d really like to go somewhere in the Nordeste, so maybe we’ll see Fortaleza or Recife.  Foz do Iguaçu are still high on my list as well.  I brought my nice camera with me, and combined I think Keia and I snapped over 500 photos.  Some of them are posted below, but I’m taking suggestions for a project I can do with all of the gorgeous pictures from this trip so that they don’t just sit in a file on my computer for decades to come.

The rest of this week is for getting down to work.  I’ll be teaching my first English class, taking a couple of phone interviews, and finishing this school project before Charles arrives on Saturday!  His visa came this afternoon, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Beijão everyone, Molly

São Paulo.

São Paulo.

Day 83

Well it certainly is a big city. From the top of the 37th floor of one of the buildings in Centro we couldn’t see where the skyscrapers ended.

Keia and I arrived at the rodoviária in São Paulo around 6am on Friday.  We took a cab straight to John’s apartment and passed out for a couple of hours before going to explore the city.  São Paulo has a lot of culture, as in museums and galleries, restaurants and nightclubs.  We started out by taking a cab downtown and walking through Pinacoteca (art museum), Estação de Luz (a very old and ornate train station that is still in use), and Museo de Língua Portuguesa.  It felt more like being in a big city in the United States to me.  If you can imagine “Brazil goes to New York” on a slightly more… unorganized, yet equally grandiose level.  We also hit up the Mercado Municipal where we filled up on fruits upon fruits upon fruits.  The vendor just wouldn’t let us walk away without trying one more sweet, exotic piece of produce.  I think I tried a wider variety of fruits in that half hour than I might have in my entire life.  By the time we headed upstairs for an infamous mortadella sandwich, we were all too full to actually eat anything, so we headed back to the apartment by way of MASP (another famous art museum that’ll have to wait until our next trip for a look-around inside).  That night we headed back to Centro to dine at a restaurant near Augusta Street, where we went out later on with some more friends.  The picanha was fabulous and the music at the boate afterward was too.

Day two took us first to the neighborhood of Liberdade.  There is a lot of Japanese culture there, and on weekends there is a market going on in the streets.  We ate some traditional street food and drank some bubble tea before leaving for the Jardins District of SP.  Rua Oscar Freire is known for having some of the most fashionable (and expensive) stores and restaurants in the city.  It is apparent as soon as you step out of the car.  The shoe stores were like a playground (for me and Keia anyway) and I could curl up in the café of any one of the bookstores for hours if I had the chance.  We walked around until just before sunset, and on the way home we stopped at Hotel Unique (pronounced in Portuguese “Oo-ni-key”) to go up to the rooftop bar and get another view of the city.  The hotel was luxurious, and designed by someone famous whose name I can’t remember amongst all of the other famous architects’ works we encountered.  It was a day of sights, not like the amazing natural wonders we have here in Rio, but a different kind of man-made elegance.  We headed back to the apartment and ordered pizza for dinner (with tomato sauce!) while we got ready for the party that night.  John’s friends trickled in as the night went on, and we got to meet a lot of people from all over the world who are now living in SP.  It is something Keia and I have to consider as we start the great job hunt.  There is a demand for engineers here in Brazil, and after taking the time to learn the language, the opportunities seem endless if we’re brave enough to take advantage of them.  It’ll be interesting to see what this next year brings.

Sunday we woke up late and caught the bus back to Rio.  It’s about a 6 hour drive, so we were home in enough time to unpack and settle back in to life before this week was officially underway.  It’s going to be a really busy one with all the schoolwork we have coming up and the English classes we’ll be starting to teach.  I’ll do my best to stay updated though.

Love,

Molly

Parabéns!

Parabéns!

Day 78

My word, it was hot today! Up to 39 degrees Centigrade, which- if you translate it the easy way- comes out to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, or- if you translate it Dad’s more accurate way- is 102.2 degrees (and turns out to be exact).  Everyone says that Summer is on it’s way, which worries me because if it has yet to truly arrive we are going to be miserable in this un-air conditioned room on the third floor for the next couple of months.  So far it’s not quite as humid as I remember Florida being, mas gente, vai.

More breaking news this week: the banks (at least in Rio, not sure about all of Brazil) are now on strike!  We can still pull money out of the ATM’s, and I now have a CPF so it shouldn’t really affect us to much, but it was pretty funny when we heard and Silvana looked up only to ask, “De novo?” (“Again?”).

Lately, some things are starting to be easier to say in Portuguese than in English.  Keia made a promise that started today- she won’t be speaking any English (even on her blog) except with her parents for the next month (when her parents will arrive here in Rio).  Everywhere we read and hear about learning languages says that if you really want to make it to that next level, to fluency, it is necessary to go that extra step and speak nothing but the language you are trying to learn. I’m up for doing it with her; it’s easier to stay in Portuguese when the two of us are on the same page, but don’t worry, friends you can still Skype me too.  Now that we’re busier with school and don’t see some of our other exchange student friends as much, we’re speaking less English as well.  Another exception we’ll have to this no English rule in the coming weeks is rather exciting.  A friend I met over the weekend has an English school here in Rio geared specifically toward pilots who need to pass an English exam.  His business has expanded to include classes for Flight Attendants and also those who need to learn English for business purposes.  He was looking for more teachers as a few of his will be leaving in the coming weeks, so Keia and I offered, and it looks like we’ve got the job and a way to earn a little spending money for the rest of our stay!  We’ll plan out our first classes after we get back from São Paulo this weekend, and hopefully we’ll start next week.

Last night in the pousada was Fabio’s birthday!  Upstairs we had a little party for him with salgados, some of the neighbors, and a whoooole lot of cake.  They sing some really fun songs for birthdays here that I need to learn (and which include lots of clapping).  I included some pictures down below.

Have a good night!

Molly

My Life!

My Life!

Day 75

This was just one of those weekends, where everything I did in a day made me seriously take a look and my life and left me in disbelief that it’s real!  Friday night we had another “Girls’ Night” at Amanda and Luciana’s apartment.  Amanda made an absolutely delicious stroganoff and we all sat around eating and drinking and talking for a couple of hours before meeting the gang in Lapa.   It was a relatively early night (a.k.a we got back to the house by about 330am), since we knew we wanted to hike Trilha Dois Irmãos (“Two Brothers Trail” which leads to the twin peaks of the mountains at the end of Ipanema) in the morning.  My roommate, Silvana, and I woke up and went to meet the group in front of the ponto policial at the entrance to the pacified favela named Vidigal.  The trail starts at the very top of the favela, so we took “moto-taxis” (which are pretty much exactly what they sound like- little taxi motorbikes- and a LOT of fun) all the way up and started the hike.  There were about 10-15 people in our group, most of them from CS and unfamiliar to me.  There were a couple of really great vistas before we reached the top, and the hike was a fairly quick one- maybe an hour to summit.  When we finished there was an amazing 360 degree view of Rio.  It’s not the highest point from which to see everything, but I think it was my favorite view so far.  On one side was the coast and the city, where the density of people is so obvious and you can pick out all of the familiar sites; on the other side just the great expansive ocean with boats and beautiful little islands dotting the water.  Without stopping to take pictures all the way down, it probably took half the tip to get back to the beginning of the trail.  I was on a tight schedule to meet up with John (the UVA grad now working for Google in São Paulo), so I took a wild taxi ride to Lagoa to meet him.  I have never heard music quite like that in my life.. and I’m not sure I want to again.

John and the group all arrived at the lake within about 10 minutes of each other, and Marquinhos with his boat was ready and waiting to take us out wakeboarding.  I used to wakeboard every summer at camp, but it’s been about 5 years so I was fairly nervous.  It took me about 3 starts to get up and back into it, and man! It is a workout like I did not remember.  After about 5 minutes of being toted around behind the boat I was exhausted, but it was still as insanely fun as I remember.  John and his friends were all getting some insane height by the time we left and the sun was setting.  It was pretty neat to see Rio from the inside of Lagoa, which is pretty surrounded by all of the biggest mountains in the area.  We walked to Ipanema and sat on the beach with a caipirinha afterwards, before going home to get washed up and head to Joe’s new apartment for a “house-warming party.”  We left Joe’s early to go to a “boate” in Barra da Tijuca- yes, that place that’s pretty and has some cool stuff but is really far away- which was fun but not quite enough for it to be more than just a one-time thing.

There were a lot of festivities going on this morning: fairs, and markets, and performances, and musicians, but I just spent the day my favorite way to pass Sundays- relaxing on the beach with friends.  Afterward we ate the first pizza I have had here with tomato sauce on it!  It was at… get ready this is anti-climactic: Dominoes!  I was happy anyway, plus Keia and I split a delightful and doce (sweet) tapioca on the way home for dessert.  I hear the pizza in São Paulo is wonderful and inexpensive, and I can’t wait to try it next week!  John invited us to come and stay at his place making it the perfect opportunity to see the city, which we really should do at least once while we’re here.  We’ll leave by bus on Friday, and it’s about a 6-7 hour drive. I still want to do a lot of traveling here, but transportation gets expensive and there is some schoolwork to be done, so I’m not sure where else we’ll go before December comes.

We’ve gotten into a rhythm with classes, so I haven’t written much about school, but our Capstone project is moving along, we have a lot of reading to do, and the next two weeks will be much more intense.  We have a project due and our first official exam the first week of October.  Since we’re learning queueing theory, I collected data at a little (and very busy) French bakery in Copacabana.  It’s tough, collecting my own data and not knowing exactly how I’m going to use it yet, but I’m going back in the morning to collect some more.  Also, I just realized I left this out for the last couple of weeks: *NEWS FLASH* THE STRIKE HAS ENDED!  Not that it really matters or applies to us anymore, and because it still wasn’t on the exact terms the professors want, but a technicality, there will likely be another strike next year.  Anyway, Friday I spent the entire day at Fundão (in the now open library), finally really sitting down and studying.  Being in a library felt really nice.  Tomorrow too I’ll head to ENCE before our night class to study some more.  Yesssss, I am still a giant nerd.  I also started the job search (at least on CAVlink- UVA’s main job posting board), and although I still don’t know what I want to do after graduation or where I want to live, everyone at UVA will be interviewing soon and it is exciting to think about.  As is the fact that Charles officially booked a ticket to come see me!  He’ll be here just before my mom gets here in October, during the Fall Break at UVA.  We booked a place for the week in Ipanema and another in Santa Teresa for a couple of days, and I’m so excited to see him!  For now, I’m going to turn in for the night 🙂

Molly

A quick summary:

A quick summary:

Day 70

I promised I would write a little bit more about our recent trip to Búzios, so here goes:  Our plan got put together fairly last minute, and last Friday (Sept. 7) was Brazil’s Independence Day, so everyone was on vacation and traveling at the same time.  We managed to book a bus out of Rio for Friday afternoon, only to discover that the one thing that actually runs on time in Brazil are the buses.  We missed the 3:04, but managed to get put on the 5 o’clock to Búzios and arrived at the hostel around 8pm.  Since we were running late, the hostel had booked over us and ended up putting us in a pousada across the street, which I think turned out to be even better.  We got ready and took a van to the center of the town (which work the same way they do in Rio- hooray for vans saving us everywhere!)  which is on one of the main beaches along with all of the shops, restaurants, and clubs gathered together within a few blocks.

Since we got in at night it was a little difficult to make out the lay of the land, but in the morning Dad and I got up, had breakfast, and got out to take a walk to Praia de Geribá.  We spent some time exploring the rock outcroppings and taking in the ocean before the others joined us and we went back to Centro to figure out how to spend the day.  From the center up to the horn of Búzios there are little beaches tucked away on the shore.  Most of them are very quaint, some are little harbors, and all of them are beautiful.  Our friends took a water taxi up to Praia de Azeidinha while Dad and I walked the path through all of the beaches from Praia de Canto up to them and stopped for lunch on the way.  That night Daddy stayed in and the rest of the group checked out David Guetta’s famous nightclub named Privilége.  The entire weekend I kind of felt like a movie star because Búzios just seems like it is probably one of those places Hollywood stars are pictured in bikinis on vacation in the tabloids.

On Sunday our bus back to Rio wasn’t scheduled to leave until 8:30pm, so we packed up for a day at the beach. Dad and I had bought tickets for a boat cruise the day before.  We left the dock at Centro in the early afternoon and spent a couple of hours riding around to the different islands and beaches and riding the slide into the water off of the back of the boat!  The coast is windy and there are more mosquitoes than it seems like there are in Rio.  I was surprised at the vegetation too, which was desert-like, rocky and dotted with cacti and all.  Of course we were particularly early to catch the bus home, which ended up leaving an hour late and taking two extra hours in traffic to arrive back in Rio.  The city bus from the rodoviária (bus terminal) only had standing space, and with all of our bags, exhausted at 2:30 in the morning it made for quite the wild ride back to Copacabana.

Yesterday, Daddy packed up his bags and we spent one last afternoon together on the beach.  Ribamar made us an Amazonian breakfast of fried bananas with cinnamon and toasted sandwiches with the bananas and egg (and maybe cheese?) on it.  Delicious.  I’ll be doing my best to get back into my cooking and exercising routine… until Mom comes to visit next month!  It was difficult adjusting back to having class and realizing all the work I need to do in these next few weeks.  Tomorrow will be a day for cracking down and getting back to “real life.”  We’ll see how that goes…

Molly

Búzios = Paradise

Búzios = Paradise

Day 69

We made it back from Búzios, and it’s Dad’s last day here in Brazil.  He flies out tonight around 10pm, so we’re going to go enjoy the beach one last time before he leaves.  Here are some pictures from our “feriado” (vacation).  I’ll update you all on the rest of the trip later on this afternoon or tomorrow.

Love,

Molly & Johnny

Aaaaand they’re off!

Aaaaand they’re off!

Day 66

The week has been a busy one.  Every morning Dad and I wake up and have a leisurely breakfast together before letting the craziness of the day take over.  Monday I had class late at night, so we spent the day in Santa Teresa exploring the neighborhood and visiting the couple of museums there are up on the hill.  Unfortunately, only Chácara do Céu was open, but it’s neighboring museum, Parque das Ruinas, was not.  Wednesday seems to be the “Day of All Museums” as they’re all open then and usually free, but Mondays and Tuesdays are hit or miss in my experience.  The views from up there are always stunning, and we walked back from Santa Teresa toward ENCE by way of a path we had never discovered before and that had monkeys running along the telephone wires on the way down!

Tuesday, I went back to ENCE in the morning for class, and when I got back the day had turned cloudy so Dad and I decided to go explore all of the neat buildings in Centro a little bit and head to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói (Contemporary Art Museum in the city across the bay).  I had never been to the other side of the bay, so we took the ferry over around 3pm, walked around the museum, had a coffee in the stunning little restaurant underneath it and found a place near the beach in Niterói for dinner.  A huge number of people who live in Niterói (the ferries accommodate 900 people sitting and 400 people standing on each one) commute across the bay to Rio every day, and it just seems like it would be such an odd thing for your daily commute to include a boat ride!

Dad brought with him on this trip a lot of the information about the Brazilian side of the Kampmann family, so after dinner we made a few phone calls and actually got to speak with one of our relatives still living in the southern part of Brazil.  The phone call fell through about 5 minutes in, but that was enough to explain who I was and get an email address. Man, talking to someone who is related to you, and yet does not even speak the same language is quite an interesting experience.  Dad and I were planning a trip earlier in the week to Foz do Iguaçu to see the waterfall from the Brazilian side and potentially visit whatever family we have whom we could contact in the area.  Unfortunately, air fares went up and we didn’t hear back from any relatives in time to make it work out, but I think it is something that will definitely happen in the future.  In the mean time, Dad and I spent another day walking the entire beach, getting CPFs (a Brazilian identification number, essentially), and planning a trip to Búzios for this weekend with about 6 of my friends instead.  Tomorrow (now today, Sept. 7) is Brazilian Independence Day, so no one has classes or work and a lot of people are traveling to take advantage of the long weekend.  I’m sure we’ll have a lot more photos when we get back.  The crystal clear water in Búzios is supposed to be utterly breathtaking, and I hear there is some good nightlife as well.  We’ll see how well Dad hangs in there, so far he’s been doing great!  I think he would stay for a lot longer if he could..

Love to all, Molly

Forces to be reckoned with

Forces to be reckoned with

allllllllmost Day 62

I figured I better not go too long without an update, because Dad and I have done quite a lot of activities since he got here just two days ago!  For the most part, the pictures speak for themselves, but I’ll give a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to.

First of all, Dona Maria and Ribamar have been really cute about making sure there is fresh fruit in cut up in the fridge and place settings in the dining room for Dad to have breakfast.  We’ve been getting up around 9 or 10, having something to eat together upstairs and then leaving for adventures around 11 or 12.  I had heard of a way to hike up to the Christ statue on Corcovado, and since I’d already been there by way of guided tour, I thought a trek up the mountain would be a better way to see the monument.  Saturday Dad and I took the metro and his first real Rio bus ride to Parque Lage where the trail begins.  Parque Lage is near Jardim Botânico and nearly like another botanical garden itself.  It evidently used to be a man’s property and mansion, which he made into an art school and park for public use.  The weather was absolutely beautiful on Saturday, so there were birthday parties for 6 year-olds and young families all over the place.  The old mansion has a little cafe inside that serves brunch and some student artwork was up in the gallery.  We could peer into a couple of the classrooms and see the art supply shop.  It really made me want to do some art again, maybe even take a class there while I’m here.  The hike itself started inside Parque Lage and pretty much ran nearly two miles up in the sky.  The first half was steep, but rather leisurely compared to the second half.  Getting to the top really felt like an accomplishment by the time we made it past the bonde tracks and were standing at the foot of the statue looking out over all of Rio de Janeiro.  We took our time and took more pictures before trying to figure out how to get back down the hill without resorting to going down the way we came.  That was when things got really Brazilian.  The parking lot attendant told us that all of the taxis up top were occupied waiting for specific return passengers and that the train would cost and still only just bring us to the bottom of the hill.  Then he offered us a ride for R$60 all the way to Copacabana, and while I’m pretty sure he would have done it for R$40 if I had been on my toes, we took the deal and settled in for the ride of our lives.  I thought the bus drivers were scary before I met this guy.  We made it home safely though, showered up and went out to dinner at a little restaurant down the street in Copa with Kevin, Joe, and Keia.  I don’t know if it’s just Dad being here, but all the food we’ve eaten has been a lot better than what I remember of the first two months.  After dinner was Luciana’s first performance with her band at a bar in Catete.  We went to support and have fun and even though it was a little louder and lasted a lot longer than I had expected, Dad hung in there and Luciana sounded awesome!

As Sundays are still the beach day of all beach days, we naturally went to Ipanema (posto 9 of course) and spent the day with my friends relaxing and enjoying the surf.  The water was freeeeezing, but the body surfing was worth it.  We just don’t get waves like that on the Gulf Coast.  We walked through both the “Hippie Fair” (in Ipanema, sells art and things) and the Sunday fair (in Copa, sells food) and had another really great meal near the pousada. Tomorrow I don’t have class until around 8:30pm, so we’re planning to go explore Santa Teresa and the couple of parks there that I haven’t gotten a chance to go inside yet.  The weather is supposed to stay good, and hopefully it does for the rest of the week because we’re trying to plan a trip either to the falls at Iguaçu or Búzios for next weekend.  Sept. 7 is Brazil’s independence day, so we’ll have off of school and everyone is on vacation.   I think Dad is ready to settle down and stay in Rio for a while, he’s been enjoying it so much.  If anyone else is up for a visit, I’d be glad to host you!  Ribamar said all I need to do is learn a little bit of French and Spanish and I’m ready to be a regular “guia brasileira do Rio” (Brazilian tour guide of Rio).

Love,
Molly